11.11.09

Lou Dobbs to Leave CNN

The longtime anchor, whose views on immigration and the Obama “birther” movement caused controversy at the cable news network, announced Wednesday that he is departing CNN.

Lou Dobbs, the controversial prime-time populist, said on his show tonight that he’s leaving CNN, to “engage in constructive problem-solving” at a destination unknown. “As for the important work of restoring inspiration to our great free society and our market economy, I will strive as well to be a leader in that conversation,” said the longtime anchor, who has been a champion of immigration opponents and the “birther” movement, which questioned President Obama’s citizenship.

Dobbs told his staff about the decision today, according to a source who attended the meeting. Although the anchor didn’t say where he’d be going, there has been considerable speculation that he’d follow fellow popular conservative host Glenn Beck to the Fox News empire, perhaps as an anchor for the long-struggling Fox Business Network. Dobbs reportedly had lunch with Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in September.

The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove asks, What Happened to the Real Lou?Dobbs, a former business anchor, reinvented himself as a cheerful nativist only in recent years, finding fame with his nightly rants about illegal immigration. He clashed openly with CNN President Jon Klein this year for giving credence to questions from some on the far right about whether Obama was born in the United States.

In July, Klein sent Dobbs’ staff an email citing research that proved Obama was indeed born in Hawaii. “It seems this story is dead—because anyone who still is not convinced doesn't really have a legitimate beef,” he wrote, adding that he did not expect to see it on the show again. Shortly thereafter, openly flouting Klein’s request, Dobbs returned to the birther story.

Since then, there has been speculation that Dobbs would leave CNN, perhaps for the friendlier airwaves of Fox News.

In recent weeks, Dobbs made headlines for another reason: A shot was fired outside his New Jersey home, which he attributed to left-wing rage. "My house has been shot and hit...,” he said. “This shot was fired, with my wife not 15 feet away. It's part of life. The anger, the hate, the vitriol."

Rebecca Dana is a culture correspondent for The Daily Beast. A former editor and reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she has also written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Rolling Stone and Slate, among other publications.